Over the next few weeks, I’ll be taking a closer look at some of the top early targets for the Tigers in the 2022 class.
Let us all take a moment to reflect on the fact that I actually finished a recruiting class preview.
Derek Mason will not only be coordinating Auburn’s defense but he’ll also be in charge of the safeties. Like Mike Bobo on offense with quarterbacks, this is the position you will see Mason most involved in on the recruiting trail. As such, I am optimistic that the Tigers are going to have a chance to continue the recent streak of high level play on the backend of the defense.
Today we examine who Mason might be targeting early this cycle.
4-star Azareyeh Thomas | 6’3” | 176 lbs | Niceville, FL
Despite being a top 100 player there hasn’t been much intel on Thomas’s recruitment. His older brother, a former Auburn target, Juanyeh Thomas plays for Georgia Tech so the Yellow Jackets are believed to be a top contender. However, he holds offers from basically every top program, an opportunity his brother did not have so don’t be surprised if he goes his own way. Thomas recently stated that a top list could be coming soon. Hopefully Auburn makes the cut.
Thomas is appropriately listed as an athlete on most every recruiting service. He does a little of everything for Niceville from locking down wide receivers at cornerback to catching deep posts on offense. He’s a big kid at 6’3” 176 lbs with excellent athleticism. Holds up well in man coverage and has the range to cover a lot of ground on the backend of the defense. When he gets a chance to focus solely on safety at the next level he’s got a chance to blossom into a future NFL draft pick.
4-star Sherrod Covil | 6’0” | 185 lbs | Chesapeake, VA
Covil plays at Virginia powerhouse Oscar Smith, the same program Auburn signed Cam Kelly out of back in 2019. Instate Virginia Tech reportedly is his leader with Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State all vying to pull him away from the Commonwealth State. I am unsure where the Tigers sit in this race as of today but he’s undoubtedly a top guy on their board.
An instinctual safety with elite athleticism, Covil’s a lot of fun to watch. He’s a violent striker who can do a little of everything from coming down hill to stick a ball carrier to being the deep man in zone coverage. Shows outstanding ball skills though he could have 5+ more interceptions with better hands. He’s an early impact player at the next level.
4-star Antonio Kite | 6’1” | 180 lbs | Anniston, AL
The state’s 13th ranked player played football for the very first time this past fall. Kite has long been a D1 basketball prospect but he showed in 2020 that he could be a two sport athlete at the next level. Surprisingly, Auburn has not offered Kite in either sport while Alabama and others have. Could that change in the near future? It would not surprise me.
Unsurprisingly given his inexperience, Kite is a raw safety prospect with tremendous upside. His high school team basically lines him up as the deepest man on the field and tells him to go be an athlete, something he does very well. You can see his speed and the physicality in his tape. He’ll have to learn the finer points of coverage and need to improve some as a tackler but he’s a kid that in 1-2 years can be an impact player on the backend of an SEC defense.
3-star Ja’Kobi Albert | 6’0” | 175 lbs | Fairfield, AL
It was a busy February for Albert landing offers from Auburn, Georgia, Penn State, and others. Very recently former Auburn WR coach Kodi Burns offered Albert as a wideout. The Tigers want him on defense with Mason leading this recruitment. It’s early but I like where Auburn sits at this time.
Albert was a stat sheet stuffer last fall compiling over 800 all-purpose yards, 11 touchdowns, 29 tackles, an interception, and 9 pass breakups. A long athlete with great speed, it’s easy to see why teams differ on which side of the ball Albert should play. He’s got great speed, nice hands, and outstanding range. I would not be surprised if he’s a top 10 player in the state by the end of the cycle.
3-star Jake Pope | 6’1” | 190 lbs | Buford, GA
Pope is another member of that loaded Buford defensive backfield. He recently released a top 14 that included the Tigers. Now Auburn needs to find a way to get him on campus. He’s reportedly taken some self guided tours at Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina so it feels safe to say those programs probably hold the early lead.
TOP 14 I dreamed of this.... pic.twitter.com/DUmCbfqtaa— Jake Pope (@JakePope24) March 2, 2021
Pope is an excellent athlete who plays on both sides of the ball for Buford along with special teams. He’s got excellent quickness and outstanding leaping ability. A solid tackler, Pope shows good range and the willingness to get his nose dirty in the run game. Very solid player who will likely find his way onto the field very early in his career.
3-star Laquan Robinson | 6’2” | 195 lbs | Greenville, AL
Derek Mason was officially hired on January 12th. Laquan Robinson landed an offer on January 13th. Think he might be a priority for this new staff? He also appears to be a priority for Florida State and Ole Miss. Right now though I think the Tigers might be tough to beat.
There is a lot of Smoke Monday to Robinson’s game. He’s a ballhawk on the back of that Greenville defense who is excellent when the ball is in the air. He’s also a head hunter capable of delivering some devastating blows. The one question mark might be his top end speed but overall there’s a ton to like about Robinson.
3-star Emory Floyd | 6’2” | 165 lbs | Powder Springs, GA
Floyd is a 3-star prospect with a 4-star offer list. The Georgia native is set to make his decision on May 1st and recently told 247Sports that Auburn, Florida, Georgia, and Notre Dame are the four schools standing out. The Dawgs are believed to be the favorite but he appears open to exploring his other opportunities. Here’s what he had to say about Auburn:
“The coaches there they treat me like family down there and also like how they evaluate and sit down with me and help me better understand my position and how I can become better in it. I really like the new staff, we chop it up almost everyday and get to know each other well.”
Floyd is a thin athlete with good range and is a very good tackler. He’s got outstanding speed that allows him to consistently run down ball carriers and prevent touchdowns. Will need some time in the weight room but the frame is there to play bigger without losing his speed. Could also slide to the nickel given his down hill ability.